international photography magazine
THE ARCHIVAL ISSUE
FEATURES 4 6 11 14 21 28
On My Mind What’s New Bookshelf Interview In Depth Theme Text
185 195 209 241 255 265
33 49 57 73 113 127 137 169
Sofia Yala Rodrigues Giovanna Petrocchi Pacifico Silano Kai Yokoyama Kelani Abass Délio Jasse Tavares Strachan Dan Boardman & Aspen Mays David Alekhuogie Lívia Melzi Alanna Fields Frida Orupabo Som Prabh Amak Mahmoodian
Focusing on the archive as subject Histories — The Archival Issue looks at contemporary ways of engaging with archival images, and their remediation as a form of activation and critical analysis. The relationship between photography and the archive is a symbiotic one, but also an inherently problematic one, which is why the questions addressed in this magazine relate to its construction, and place decolonial approaches at the centre of the conversation. We invite you to ponder on the reimagined archive — one where past collective memories merge, shape the present and redirect the future.
HIS TOR IES
CONTENTS FEATURES EDITORIAL
by The Editors
ON MY MIND
Shirin Neshat Jacqueline Bates
WHAT’S NEW: MOHAMAD ABDOUNI
by Joy Stacey
SOFIA YALA RODRIGUES Text by Ana Raquel Manhique
INTERVIEW Awoiska van der Molen & Eugenie Shinkle
On the Archive in Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa
NOTES FOR A POSSIBLE INVENTORY Elisa Medde
by Clusterduck Collective
Text by Kim Knoppers
PACIFICO SILANO Text by Avram Finkelstein
Text by Mika Kobayashi
THERE IS ALWAYS MORE : SEXUALITY’S ARCHIVES
ASPEN MAYS & DAN BOARDMAN Text by Lucy Ives
Jessica de Abreu
159 MEMES AND THE (ANTI-)ARCHIVE
DAVID ALEKHUOGIE Text by Antawan I. Byrd
Text by Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira
209 ALANNA FIELDS Text by Chandra Frank
by Anjali Arondekar
98 IN CONVERSATION
On the Ethics and Contradictions of the Archive by Henri Badaröh, Carollina Lauriano & Stephanie Ribeiro with works by Fernando Banzi
by Brenda J. Caro Cocotle
KELANI ABASS Text by Mariama Attah
TAVARES STRACHAN Text by Mirjam Kooiman
ACTIVATING ARCHIVES, COMMUNITY DIALOGUES by Sunil Shah
DÉLIO JASSE Text by Henri Badaröh
A NON-ODE TO DECOLONISING THE ARCHIVE
FRIDA ORUPABO Text by Anne Wetsi Mpoma
SOM PRABH Text by Varun Nayar
LIKE A HUNTER VENTURING OUT ON A SAFARI
AMAK MAHMOODIAN Text by David Campany
by Rona Sela
Archives are all around us: in the form of family albums, or the community, city and national archives. We tend to perceive them as places and spaces where memories and evidence of histories are kept, preserved, indexed and certified; as repositories of traces, and treasure coves of relics and narratives. However, they are also very complicated entities, as the construction of archives all too easily lends itself to the curation, staging, erasure and manipulation of histories in ‘the public eye’. The Greek etymology of the word developed in the declinations of arkhē (government), arkheion (town hall, public building), ta arkheia (public records), and the subsequent Late Latin archivum (plural archiva) stands for ‘written records’. These few linguistic elements already suggest the fundamentally complex interrelation between institutional power and the creation, construction, management of archives — one that grew only more problematic over time. However, today’s archive fever keeps rising with a renewed attention towards its contradictions and the imperative to discuss and dismantle the supposed neutrality of the archive. Foam Magazine #59 Histories — The Archival Issue takes a close look at the linkage between photography, the archive and the ways in which the two influence our perception and understanding of histories and self. It focuses on the archive as a subject and the archival image as both source and context, highlighting decolonial approaches and the contemporary questions surrounding such conversations. Our editorial journey started with the intention of sifting through the many layers, getting our hands dusty while focusing on the archive’s remediation as a form of activation and critical
analysis — including the possibilities thereof. We are incredibly proud to host contributions from a wide plethora of precious guests: from portfolios showing the works of artists such as Tavares Strachan, Alanna Fields, David Alekhuogie, Pacifico Silano and Frida Orupabo, to text contributions by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, Anjali Arondekar, Brenda J. Caro Cocotle and Rona Sela — only to name a few. Our focus not only lies in the examination of established or physical archives, but in the creation of contemporary forms of photographic archiving. Ranging from innovative collaborations and new approaches in education as described by Sunil Shah, to the collection of memes as explored by Clusterduck Collective with their transmedia project Meme Manifesto. Our mostloved feature, the On My Mind, hosts precious reflections from Shirin Neshat and Jacqueline Bates, while the Bookshelf presents an inspiring and necessary selection coming from Jessica de Abreu and Amsterdam-based The Black Archives. The What’s New introduces the upcoming publication by Mohamad Abdouni, Treat Me Like Your Mother: Trans* Histories from Beirut’s Forgotten Past and our regular, main Interview presents an inspiring conversation between Awoiska van der Molen and Eugenie Shinkle. Last but not least, you will find something special right at the end of this issue of Foam Magazine. The back cover of Histories presents a small selection of posters from the archive of Now You See Me Moria. In August 2020, the namesake Instagram account was launched, as a joint effort between an Afghan refugee living in the largest refugee camp of Europe (located in Moria, on the Greek
island of Lesbos), and a photo editor based in the Netherlands, to collect photos and share stories documenting life in the camp. Shortly after, a Syrian refugee and another Afghan man joined. It was an attempt to make people across Europe aware of the dire, difficult situation in the camp — especially considering the access ban to journalists and professional photographers inside the premises. Within the timespan of a year, the initiative expanded into a collective creative effort across Europe, with artists and designers engaging with the photographs made in the camp to create powerful poster designs. The posters have been pasted on streets and windows across the continent during guerrilla actions, and are now the subject of a crowdfunding action to produce a catalogue, called Action Book, including all of them. During the summer of 2021 Foam, together with two other major Dutch photographic institutions, the Nederlands Fotomuseum and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, will collaborate to host a platform for the collective in their spaces. In addition to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Now You See Me Moria will be presented at various cultural locations in Europe this year including Munich (DE), Vienna (AT), Barcelona (ES), Getxo (ES) and Viseu (PT). As usual, we hope the pages you are about to turn will provide inspiration, instil questions, offer beauty, knowledge and unexpected ideas. It is a pleasure and a privilege to have you with us on this journey. — The Editors
TREAT ME LIKE YOUR MOTHER: A Cold Cuts publication by MOHAMAD ABDOUNI
Trans* Histories from Beirut’s Forgotten Past Article by JOY STACEY
We hope that through sharing histories that have been forgotten, we can start to build a more just, fair and kind future while fully honouring those who fought to exist before. We want to celebrate them and their existence, understand their histories, and inform others in the process. This project is about affording our elders basic human dignity, visibility, love and kindness.
p.6 1: Dolly; Sation Beirut — Matn, Lebanon (2019). Mohamad Abdouni, courtesy of the artist. 2: Em Abed at the office on Halloween night. — J. Saroufim S.a.r.l. Printing & Converting, Maetn, Lebanon (–1993). Photographer unknown, courtesy of Em Abed. Note: Em Abed worked as a graphic designer in a printing press. Here she poses for photos at the office before heading out to a Halloween party. p.8 3: Em Abed on a roadtripin a tour bus heading to Aleppo, Syria. “I was named Miss bus in a pretend beauty pageant we held on our way to Syri”. Lebanon (a" –1995). Photographer unknown, c. Courtesy of Em Abed. “I was named Miss Bus in a pretend beauty pageant we held on our way to Syria.” — Em Abed 4: Em Abed and Jahadat on Halloween night. SafraMarine — Keserwan, Lebanon (1992). Photographer unknown, courtesy of Em Abed. 5: Em Abed on Halloween night. SafraMarine — Keserwan, Lebanon (1994). Photographer unknown, courtesy of Em Abed. Note: Em Abed won first place in the costume competition that year.
MOHAMAD ABDOUNI is a photographer, filmmaker and curator based in Beirut. He is also editor-inchief and creative director of Cold Cuts magazine, the photo journal exploring queer culture and the Middle East. His work has been featured by Dazed, i-D / Vice, It’s Nice That, Sleek, Photoworks (UK) and others. JOY STACEY is a collaborative creative practitioner, writer and curator based in Brighton, UK, with particular focus on the body-asresistance, and feminist, queer and decolonial/anticolonial cultures in Palestine and Lebanon.
JESSICA DE ABREU’S
BOOKSHELF: The Black Archives
The Black Archives is a historical archive and cultural centre, located in Amsterdam’s East and the Black historical neighbourhood Bijlmer, where people can go for inspiring conversations, substantive activities and access books from Black and other perspectives that often remain underexposed elsewhere. Based on the collections, the team develops exhibitions, events, lectures and more.
Awoiska van der Molen in conversation with
INTERVIEW scious operations handling the film material, counting the frames left on the film, changing cassettes creates a precious different pace. When I am making my work, I enjoy that the photographed image isn’t visible instantly. The latent image on the negative is brewing until it is further worked on after my return. If I could see the results on the spot, if I could download all the images in the evening to a laptop to look at them... this would pull me out of an accumulated focus and throw me into a result-driven reality. I prefer not to. I favour the analogue print. I like the specific skin of the fibre paper, the different sharpness, perhaps stretched grains of the negative, the retouching with a fine brush to cover the dust spots, the tiny signs that appear with the physical handling. All these factors contribute to the final soul of the work.
death. I use a camera, it is a photograph, but my works are psychological spaces, not landscape photographs. ES
That’s hard for a lot of people to understand — why are you using a camera if you don’t want to make something that’s photographic? I understand that feeling very well, but I don’t have a good answer to that question. It’s a sense that there’s something beyond what you see. The camera is a means, but deepening the experience of making the work is the goal. The landscape, its nature, is a loyal and faithful vacuum where I can achieve this. It makes me feel at ease to return to the primordial. I am not documenting the landscape, but I return here to ‘be’.
This experience you have when you photograph is difficult to put into words, so I’m very interested in the way that the exhibitions, and the books help to shape it, to transform it, to make it into something that doesn’t necessarily recreate your experience, but that gives it to the viewer in a different form. The books and exhibitions are my thoughts, my thinking, my feeling. For every new situation, whether it is an artist book or an exhibition, I freely combine older and newer works. Sometimes an older work that I have never shown before can start to play a role, to complete the voice that I wish in a particular presentation. I don’t consider or treat my work as separate ‘series’. Even images in my books have subtly overlapped.
EUGENIE SHINKLE is a photographer and writer based in London, England. Originally trained as a civil engineer, she holds an MA in Photography, Art History and Landscape Anthropology, and a PhD from the Slade School of Fine Art. She writes and lectures widely on a range of topics including architecture, landscape, vision machines and human/ technology relations. Eugenie is co-editor of the photobook platform c4journal, and a regular contributor to many online and print publications.
What makes an image good, or worth looking at again, or, conversely, what makes you want to say ‘no?’ By the sound of it, the ones that don’t work for you are the ones that might make other people think ‘oh, that’s a beautiful landscape.’ A good image I think, does not explain, it rather slightly destabilises; perhaps there is both attraction and rejection in it. The process to know new images takes time. The photographic residue of my experiences takes on its own new form, its own place. They are new entities. The images that stay, that hold up, are those that touch a deeper universal knowledge, I hope. Something that perhaps is not possible to explain. It is awesome to stand physically in a ‘beautiful landscape’, but an image of a ‘beautiful landscape’ often does not invite participation. The beauty can be thrown in your face and there it ends. It may seem a strange thing to say, but your photographs are not necessarily about vision. In Sequester, for example, a lot of what your eyes are doing on those pages is not recognising an image. The same is true of the exhibitions; it’s something different. It’s being drawn in, bodily, and confronted with this incredible darkness. As a viewer, you’re engulfed in the landscape. I’m so pleased to hear that you experience the pictures in this way. Yes, our primary perception is firstly the bodily perception of the space around us; seeing comes after that. I relate to that very well: bodily consciousness connects us with the place, sensing the natural surroundings. I think that the darkness in the images touches the not-so-well-known or for some, even unsettling territories of our unconscious — areas that for me are on the boundary of beginning or ending, heaven or hell, life or
AWOISKA VAN DER MOLEN is a Dutch visual artist, using photography as her main tool. In 2017 her work was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize and she was the recipient of the Larry Sultan Photography Award. In 2019, Awoiska was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability. This exhibition with the theme ‘Hope’ is touring worldwide until 2021.
Opening portrait of Awoiska van der Molen by Anne Barlinckhoff. Images on pages 17 and 18 © Awoiska van der Molen, courtesy of the artist and Annet Gelink Gallery p.17 #563-8 from the publication The Living Mountain (Fw:Books, 2020) p.18 #545-16, unpublished
ANNE BARLINCKHOFF currently lives and works between Europe and Africa. Her work has been exhibited in the USA, South Africa, Australia and across Europe. She has additionally been published at Magnum Photos, Der Greif, i-D, Vice, Dazed, Playboy and Vogue Italia. Anne was awarded the New Dutch Photography Talent art prize by GUP in 2013, and in 2016 she won the Dutch Design Talent, Best Graduates by Fontanel in Amsterdam the Netherlands with her video installation and book Dreams of Paradise.
ARIELLA AÏSHA AZOULAY &
On the Archive in
Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism
Notes for a possible inventory by Elisa Medde
line of this ever-changing tension. Whether confronting family and personal histories against the backdrop of national and community’s narratives, re-composing invisibilities, addressing trauma or creating alternative narratives, dismantling structures and highlighting blind spots, all the contributions contained in this issue have one thing in common: they navigate the tension of addressing possible histories, drafting inventories, addressing repositories. *** While I was deep in the making of the issue of Foam Magazine you are currently holding in your hands, I received an e-mail with a book suggestion. It was one of those moments in which you think instant karma really works (positively, for once), and the very welcome suggestion felt like an epiphany. The book was No Archive Will Restore You, written by Julietta Singh and published by punctum books, which opens with a quote — the true trigger of my epiphany. It is actually a quote of a quote, one that acted equally cathartically on her while reading something else: Edward Said’s Orientalism, specifically. The quote is from Antonio Gramsci, with whom I am lucky enough to share the same island of origin, and it comes from his Prison Notebooks. The quote reads: ‘The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is “knowing thyself” as a product of the historical process to date which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory. The first thing to do is to make such an inventory.’ Then Singh follows: ‘An infinite history of traces without an inventory! An endless collection of oneself that is impossible to gather… I had no concrete idea of what it meant, or what currency it had in my own life, but I knew how it felt. It felt as though the broken thing I was might be restored, and it felt like an embodied idea I would never stop desiring for myself and for the world.’ The idea of an inventory, a reasoned list of the infinity of traces deposited by all possible histories! Maybe, the mere intuition of the possibility of being able to elaborate such abstract thought is what drives that fever, burning desire, impulse into engaging with the archive — and its many identities. An ever-changing tension, an unreachable knowledge. ELISA MEDDE is a photography editor, curator and writer. With a background in Art History, Iconology and Photographic Studies, her research reflects on the relationship between image, communication and power structures. She has been nominator for the Prix Elysée, The Leica Oskar Barnack Award and MAST Foundation for Photography Grant, amongst others. Elisa has chaired numerous juries and, next to writing regularly for Foam Magazine, has written for Something We Africans Got, Vogue Italia / L'Uomo Vogue, YET Magazine and other publications. Elisa is Editor-in-Chief of Foam Magazine, Amsterdam.
SOFIA YALA RODRIGUES Playing with Visual Fragments
SOFIA YALA RODRIGUES
of her own body beyond the identity of family, in search for new ways of framing the archive with its unfinished fragments, of existence in the making. A genealogical body of movement beyond geographical borders and predesigned routes, this is what she proposes. Influenced by the works of Lorna Simpson, Délio Jasse, Dionne Lee and Carrie Mae Weems, Yala Rodrigues proposes new itineraries through the archive as a contemporary art form. Original ways of composing the fragments, of gazing at Black bodies, Black memories and genealogies — a new mode of looking at herself de-centred from the white gaze.
Building new landscapes of meaning and heritage, turning the archive into an instrument, not only of remembrance but of annihilation of the colonial (gaze), is a tool for freedom. It is in this space of agency that the artist leaves us to wonder what new languages of the archival art forms are about to emerge: from different memory practices to new signifiers and symbols that respond to the future and emancipation of the Black body by de-framing the colonial. — Text by Ana Raquel Manhique
All images from the series Playing with Visual Fragments © Sofia Yala Rodrigues, courtesy of the artist SOFIA YALA RODRIGUES has a Visual Anthropology background and is currently earning her MA in Film and Photography at the University of Derby. The core of her practice comes out of curiosity about her family archives, history, migration, identity and transatlantic realities, and part of her present work can be attributed to experimentation. Sofia entitled her practice as a hybrid, as she sees it as an ongoing work that is never finished, instead, always in renovation. Revisiting the past includes leaving a margin for more reflection in the future without compromising the essence of the present. ANA RAQUEL MANHIQUE holds a BA in Anthropology and is currently earning her MA in Territorial Management and Urban Studies with a research on the presence of Black women in Lisbon’s urban space. As she travelled around the world, she crossed borders and barriers that awakened her interest in the intersections between notions and concepts of culture composing and deconstructing Black women’s bodies in the spaces and geographies that define us humans. Daughter to Mozambican parents, Ana Raquel was born in Lisbon in 1991.
GIOVANNA PETROCCHI Modular Artefacts, Mammoth Remains
character of the work. In fact, however, she does precisely the opposite. In her collages she portrays a fake narrative, an imaginary story that lies somewhere between the past, the present and the future. She puts it like this. ‘There is a sense of mysteriousness evoked by ancient cultures, their traditions, the use of objects and tools, their relationship with animals, that I find very fascinating […]. This leaves much space to the imagination and that’s why I am so drawn to them.’ (e-mail correspondence, 9 May 2021) Nevertheless, Petrocchi’s fake narrative seems to come closer to the reality of archaeology than the artificial classification by period and geographical location that is applied to museum collections. An observation by Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuściński (1932– 2007) perhaps helps to make clear what I mean. ‘In the world of our own day there are no longer any cultures that exist separately, distant from everything else, in isolation. Nowadays every culture, although each to a different extent, is influenced, hybridized, marked by eclecticism. All cultural currents now meet in the great delta of modern civilization, where because of modern means of communication that encompass and connect the planet, they interpenetrate and combine together before, in a single channel, pouring into the new era to form the coming cosmic civilization.’ (Ryszard Kapuściński, Lapidarium. Observaties van
een wereldreiziger 1980-2000. Amsterdam, De Arbeiderspers, 2003, p. 95, originally published as Lapidaria by Czytelnik, Warsaw. Quote translated via the Dutch.) Archaeological fragments are continually in flux; they transcend their own time, are distributed to other regions, given new functions, reused, destroyed by iconoclasts and reconstructed by guardians of heritage. They therefore become part of a story that is broader and more continuous than anything represented in their museological pigeon-holes. The entities presented by Petrocchi do not belong to a specific time or place either. In most cases they float against a white or black background in which the notion of scale has been abandoned. The scale itself remains, but not its relationship to the object. Her collages have become free spaces made up of real data concerning the artefacts along with new visual information. They are not accompanied by captions to guide the viewer in a specific direction. They poke fun at the historical, linear and scientific perspective and in doing so contain a promise to tell a different story, that of a Universal Collection of artefacts linked together across time and space in which cultures mix, just as the artefacts themselves do. — Text by Kim Knoppers
All images from the series Modular Artefacts, Mammoth Remains © Giovanna Petrocchi, courtesy of the artist GIOVANNA PETROCCHI is an Italian photographer based between London and Rome. She graduated from the London College of Communication with a BA in Photography in 2015 and she completed her MA in Visual Arts at Camberwell College of Arts, London in 2019. She was selected as a winner of the Lens Culture Emerging Talent Award in 2017 and she won the Photographers’ Gallery New Talent award in 2019. She has been recently nominated by CAMERA — Centro Italiano per la Fotografia to be part of the 2020 FUTURES photography talents. Recent exhibitions include ‘With Monochrome Eyes’ at the Borough Road Gallery, London, the Athens Photo Festival at the Benaki Museum, Athens and ‘Contemporary Mythologies’ at Tenuta di Monteverdi, Grosseto, Italy (from 12th June). KIM KNOPPERS is an independent curator and art historian graduated from University of Amsterdam. She has been curator at Foam between 2010 and 2021. Since 2011, she has worked on group and solo exhibitions, most recently Lorenzo Vitturi’s Materia Impura, Morpher III by Kévin Bray, Extendable Ears by Sheng-Wen Lo and Afropean: Travels in Black Europe by Johny Pitts. She has contributed to various magazines including Foam Magazine, Unseen and Aperture and has written catalogue texts for Jaya Pelupessy and Sylvain CouzinetJacques, amongst others. She is a lecturer on the MA Photography at ECAL in Lausanne where she initiated and developed the course Do Not Disturb— Curating in Progress.
Thank you, Kim
PACIFICO SILANO The Ways to Love a Man
militarism Eisenhower warned of in his farewell address. Silano, however, proposes an alternative set of reflections and entreaties, seeking symbology in the queer nationalism borne of the same forebears his images circle. Silano draws on an archive representing a different set of codes than Rosenquist’s, which had its roots in Joseph Campbell. Silano’s are the codes of Kenneth Anger — and can only be accessed through the queer gaze. In his seminal descriptions of queer art practices, José Esteban Muñoz is a solid example of the trouble academia has when coping with queer representation. He spent roughly two decades arguing that ephemera constituted a form of queer evidence, and that the queer archive was, by necessity, distinct from the types of material corroboration archives generally look towards. That he needed to roll his argument all the way into the 21st century in Cruising Utopia2 is somewhat startling,
given that most of us carried computers in our pockets by then, which are awash in a steady stream of archival evidence of queerness. Outside the walls of the academy queer proof is plainly apparent, and Pacifico Silano is throwing his hat in Muñoz’s ring. After all, it is the 21st century, isn’t it? — Text by Avram Finkelstein
1 David Deitcher, Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together, 18401918 (New York; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001) 2 José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York; NYU Press, 2009)
All images from the series The Ways to Love a Man © Pacifico Silano, courtesy of the artist and Assembly PACIFICO SILANO is a lens-based artist whose work is an exploration of print culture, the circulation of imagery and LGBTQ+ identity. He received his MFA in Photography, Video & Related Media from the School of Visual Arts. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Bronx Museum; Tacoma Art Museum; Oude Kerk, Amsterdam; Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City, and is currently part of the group exhibition, Fantasy America, which opened at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in March 2021. Awards include the Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship, NYFA Fellowship in Photography, and being a finalist for the Aperture Foundation Portfolio Prize. His work is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art. He has had solo shows at Baxter ST@CCNY, The Bronx Museum of the Arts Block Gallery, Rubber-Factory, Stellar Projects, NYC, and Fragment Gallery, Moscow. Reviews of his work have appeared in The New Yorker, Artforum, and The Washington Post. AVRAM FINKELSTEIN is an artist, writer, and a founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives. His work has shown at MoMA, the Whitney Museum, the New Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum, and is in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Whitney, the New Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. He is featured in the Oral History collection at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, and his book for UC Press, After Silence: A History of AIDS Through its Images was nominated for an International Center Of Photography 2018 Infinity Award in Critical Writing and Research.
KAI YOKOYAMA The day you were born, I wasn’t born yet
My grandfather became deaf after he came back from the Pacific War.
Little is known about where my grandfather was and what he did during the war in 1944-1945. He didn’t tell his family anything about it.
were born, I wasn’t born yet is taken from an untitled, undated and unfinished short poem by Chuya Nakahara (1907–1937), a prominent poet of Japanese modern literature. The full text is as follows. ‘The day you were born, I wasn’t born yet. I found a train ticket from the pocket of old cloth, which became invalid because of the stopover. I guess the day which I was born […]’ The poem, like a scribble, is said to be written about his lover but the whole text is ambiguous and can be interpreted in various ways. This ambiguity allows him to set out an inner journey through the archive and his attempt to step into his own path during this period of anxiety and uncertainty. Born out of a period of global anxiety, his poetic vision will surely resonate with others’ experiences. —Text by Mika Kobayashi
All images from the series The day you were born, I wasn’t born yet © Kai Yokoyama, courtesy of the artist KAI YOKOYAMA is a photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. His work has been featured in publications such as The Washington Post and Marie Claire Italy. Yokoyama’s work has been awarded or shortlisted at KLPA (2019), PX3 (2019, 2020), IPA (2020), Athens Photo Festival (2020), and he won first place in the LensCulture/Journeys series category (2020). In 2020, he participates in #ICPConcerned exhibition at ICP, Home Museum exhibition at LagosPhoto, and the online exhibition at PHmuseum. He receives Carolyn Drake’s mentorship programme in Magnum Photos this year. Kai is a member of Native Agency and Diversify Photo. MIKA KOBAYASHI is a Japanese critic and lecturer on photography and gender studies. She has contributed to various magazines and publications inside and outside of Japan. She worked at ICP as Asian Cultural Council grantee from 2007-2008, and at SFMoMA as Patterson Fellow in 2008. From 2010 to 2019, Mika was a guest researcher at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
THERE IS ALWAYS MORE: SEXUALITY’S ARCHIVES ANJALI ARONDEKAR
THERE IS ALWAYS MORE
Cover page of the Samaj Sudharak, July, 1940 Source: Gomantak Maratha Samaj Archives, Mumbai, India
If at first glance, the ethical responsibility of an archive is to host wor(l)ds that may otherwise be lost, in the end, its central obligation may be to provide wor(l)ds that may never have left.
Samaj, archival surplus repeats itself in a historical calculus, so minor, so unspectacular, that it does not appear to excite historical recuperation. As a historian colleague once asked me with great exasperation, why is this not just a failed archive? If it has not been read, and is so evidently available, surely, there must be nothing there. The Samaj’s provenance thus marks both archival abundance and historical minoritisation: it is at once removed from the archival mandates that govern minoritised histories, even as it is intimately acquainted with them and their most subtle efforts on historywriting. Let us imagine such a history together.
1 Instead of providing a more conventional listing of the many excellent monographs and special issues published in the past decade on new/found archives of sexuality in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, I want to turn to a slightly different exemplar of the explosion of such archives. I recently served as a regional editor for Asia for a new encyclopedia on LGBQTI+ histories of sexuality. Together, the six editors of the encyclopedia reviewed over 600 entries on new archival research on queer history across the world, with topics ranging from more familiar topics such as sodomy and human rights, to more unfamiliar ones on issues such as queer workingclass bars and homosexual blackmail. See Anjali Arondekar, Associate Editor (Asia), and Howard Chiang, Chief Editor, Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History (Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2019). 2 See Elizabeth Povinelli, Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011) , 3-4
3 For more historical detail on the emergence of the Samaj, see Arondekar, ‘Subject to Sex: A Small History of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj’ in South Asian Feminisms, ed. Ania Loomba and Ritty A. Lukose (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2012). Other texts that gloss briefly on the history of the Samaj include Bhobe, Kalavant Gomantak, Khedekar, Gomantak Lok Kala and Satoshkar, Gomantak Prakriti Ani Sanskriti. 4 The bulk of the archives are housed at the Gomantak Maratha Samaj Society building in Mumbai, India. In 2004, the Samaj offices were moved from Gomantak Maratha Samaj Sadan, 345 V.P. Road, Bombay 400004 to Sitladevi Co-op. Housing Society Ltd., 7-16/B Wing, D. N. Nagar, New Link Road, Andheri (W), Mumbai 400053. A partial archive can be found at the Gomantak Maratha Samaj, Dayanand Smriti, Swami Vivekanand Marg, Panaji 403001, Goa.
ANJALI ARONDEKAR is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, and Founding Co-Director, Center for South Asian Studies, at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research engages the poetics and politics of sexuality, caste, colonialism and historiography, with a focus on South Asia. She is the author of For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India (Duke University Press, 2009, Orient Blackswan, India, 2010), winner of the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award for best book in lesbian, gay, or queer studies in literature and cultural studies, Modern Language Association (MLA), 2010. Her second book, Abundance: Sexuality, Historiography, Geopolitics (forthcoming Duke University Press), grows out of her interest in the figurations of sexuality, ethics and collectivity in colonial British and Portuguese India. The Focus Essay ‘There is Always More’ in Foam Magazine is an excerpt from Anjali’s second book.
BADARÖH, LAURIANO & RIBEIRO
ON THE ETHICS AND CONTRADICTIONS OF THE ARCHIVE HENRI BADARÖH, CAROLLINA LAURIANO & STEPHANIE RIBEIRO
BADARÖH, LAURIANO & RIBEIRO
Fernando Banzi’s series Types brings colour to a sombre historical archive. Instigated by the results, Foam Magazine invited Carollina Lauriano and Stephanie Ribeiro to talk about the remediation of the archival image, the handling of traumatic images and contemporary Black visual culture.
In 1866, German-Brazilian photographer Alberto Henschel (1827–1882) immigrated to Brazil, where he became one of the most successful photographers of the period. Henschel photographed subjects ranging from the Brazilian monarchy and tradespeople to the extravagant 19th-century middle class. However, Henschel’s portraits of the African diaspora in Brazil — free and enslaved — are probably amongst his most famous works. Carte de visite style, these photographs are praised by many for the presumably respectful portrayal of a people who, back then, were mostly exoticised or objectified. In the public domain, these images were then found by photojournalist Fernando Banzi, whose colourisation process became the project Types. Banzi attempts to bring these portraits to the present day by using strong colours, traditional garments and a mélange of skin tones. HENRI BADARÖH: We are dealing here with a set of photographs in which some were supposedly used by slave owners for the trade of slaves. I would love to know how you both felt first looking at Banzi’s interventions on these portraits. How do we look at such a loaded archive today?
CAROLLINA LAURIANO: I think Banzi’s work permeates a very interesting place for me. Similar to the work of artist Aline Motta, there is a strong relationship with fabulation. Motta, a woman of colour, goes on a quest to retrieve her history. As an exercise of imagination, she sets out to discover her origins starting with just her great-grandmother’s name, the only information she possesses. She uses DNA test results and researches into the culture and customs of her African ancestors to fabulate the story of her great-grandmother that, inevitably, ends up writing Motta’s own story. I think that through fabulation, personal stories connect with other people’s stories, especially when these stories have voids. HB: Voids created by years and years of Black history erasure, right? It makes me think about how I don’t even know my great-grandmother’s full name, or how Henschel’s portraits only identify those portrayed as ‘types’ or ‘black boy, black woman’ — nameless people with no sense of humanity. CL: In Brazil, your ancestry, your provenance — the possession of a passport that allows you to transit from
BADARÖH, LAURIANO & RIBEIRO
BADARÖH, LAURIANO & RIBEIRO
a narrative per se. For him, at that moment, it was an exercise of creativity, channelling images taken from his everyday life into the archive. CL: I believe everything stems from a notion of ‘official history’, which is told from the perspective of the winner. This said winner draws conclusions about others. So ethnic, racial, and indigenous questions are seen in a reductive way. In a lazy process, what is passed on about those otherised becomes more and more limited. In this system, every African is tribal, every Native American is cannibal. The reaffirmation of these images is aggressive. To want to talk about anything in the world should be possible, yes. Existence is a heavy burden, so sometimes we need to be able to wander away from our identity, and not only ruminate on reaffirming ourselves. I think we are going towards these principles with artists like Rosana Paulino, or my brother Jaime Lauriano, who use these archives and materials to talk about their own history without giving too much space to fallacious ideas of racial democracy, catechised and domesticated bodies. This new generation of artists, through their practice, is thinking of new possibilities for the world without shying away from the acknowledgement of white violence — only this way we can preserve our memory. HB: And truly think of possible futures, isn’t it? CL: For me, it is important to remember these people’s individuality. They have unique needs, desires and visions. We cannot any longer talk about universality — there is multiplicity. Now, we shall talk not about thinking outside the box, but rather, down with the box altogether. Let’s think about other cosmovisions, other cosmopolitics, that depart from the so-called white, western, Eurocentric ones.
All images (except as noted below) from the series Types © Fernando Banzi, courtesy of the artist p.106–107 Alberto Henschel / Acervo Instituto Moreira Salles STEPHANIE RIBEIRO is an architect, writer, presenter and Black feminist. She has had essays on several portals, including ArchDaily, Vitruvius, and Casa Vogue. In 2018, she was one of the Brazilian recipients of the award Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD). In 2020, she was on Forbes’ Under 30 list in the Design, Architecture and Urbanism category and she became the presenter of the programme Decora-se (Decora) on cable channel GNT. Stephanie believes in art, design, and culture as fundamental to intersectional Black activism and the social responsibility of the architect for a more just and egalitarian society. She is one of the authors of the book Feminist Explosion: Art, Culture, Politics and University, winner of the Rio Award. CAROLLINA LAURIANO has a degree in Social Communication and an extension in Research (Art, Design and Fashion) from Central Saint Martins – UAL, and she has been working as an independent curator since 2017. Between 2018 and 2020, Carollina joined the curatorship and management of Ateliê397. Amongst her main projects are the exhibitions O Corpo Além do Corpo, which discusses female transsexuality and seeks the role of new bodies in society and A Noite Jamais Adormecerá nos Olhos Nossos, which brought together seventeen racialised artists at São Paulo’s Galeria Baró to present and discuss the production of dissident bodies within the art market. Carollina is co-curator of the 13th Mercosul Biennial, which will take place in Porto Alegre in 2022. FERNANDO BANZI is a member of Goma Oficina Association and teacher of photography at Senac São Miguel Paulista. Types was selected for the programme New Photography 2018 at São Paulo’s Museum of Image and Sound – MIS, and in the same year, it was presented at PHotoESPAÑA, Valongo International Image Festival, and SOLAR Foto Festival. His series Mask has been part of the Auckland Photography Festival in 2020, curated by Format. He has selfpublished the photo books Hecho en Mexico, Taciturnidade, and Omipipa. In 2019, Types was published by Editions Bressard. Fernando lives and works in São Paulo.
KELANI ABASS Casing History
shared. The physical process of making something permanent and readable echoes throughout Abass’ work and his decision to frame history in this way. Or rather, reframe history. Abass is showing us an iteration of an archive. An archive that has been assembled and shaped by one set of hands and eyes with their own initial narrative, and is then shared with audiences to make their own associations between the images. The portability of these structures is a curious element to explore. What is enabled when you can package and take your history with you wherever you go? Is there something to be gained from comparing the past as it has been written while standing in the present? Like an adventurer with
a historical map navigating the current day, the cased histories are an indicator of what once was, while the future is yet to be printed or determined. There is an unlimited number of connections which can be made between the individual and the whole, mirroring the endless exchanges that take place between people and their communities. The sculptural and structural element of storytelling laid out so neatly in these cases lends itself to forming and building stories over and over again, while allowing us to impose a little order and imagination on the past, present, and future. — Text by Mariama Attah
All images from the series Casing History © Kelani Abass, courtesy of the artist and Nil Gallery KELANI ABASS is an artist currently living and working in Nigeria. He studied painting at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, graduating in 2007 and uses a variety of archival methods and materials in his work, which is represented by Nil Gallery. Kelani probes the shared history and character of man and machines , while commenting on the alienation of the worker and life in West Africa through a wide range of media. In doing so, he depicts an interpretation of the past, present and future for those from his community. MARIAMA ATTAH is a photography curator and lecturer with a particular interest in overlooked visual histories, and in using photography and visual culture to amplify under and misrepresented voices. Mariama is curator of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. She was previously Assistant Editor of Foam Magazine. Prior to this, she was curator of Photoworks, where she was responsible for developing and curating programs and events including Brighton Photo Biennial and was commissioning and managing editor of the yearly magazine Photoworks Annual.
DÉLIO JASSE Arquivo Urbano / Sem Valor
136 Arquivo Urbano (2018) is composed of a series of prints on ortho film, in which Jasse reworks his own photographic archive and juxtaposes negative and positive shots of noted landmarks in Luanda. A hybrid work, this series encompasses Luanda’s colonial Portuguese buildings, its modernist architecture promoted by Vasco Vieira da Costa and Fernão Lopes Simões de Carvalho between the 1940s and 1960s, and the new, international corporate style propelled by globalisation — embracing their unruly appeal. Working with film, black and white images, positives and negatives, Jasse’s work points to the past but
DÉLIO JASSE additionally, the nature of the photographic process to create the images alludes to a utopian architectural future for one of the fastest expanding cities on the African continent. He says: ‘Part of my interest is in exposing these alternative processes and in making the various stages “physical”, and therefore visible. The image ends up being neither univocal nor homogeneous; each layer can be viewed individually or jointly’. As often with Jasse’s work, the layered, complex process for making the work is as important as the finished image itself. — Text by Henri Badaröh
All images from the series Arquivo Urbano / Sem Valor © Délio Jasse, courtesy of the artist DÉLIO JASSE uses analogue processes to subvert the reproducibility of the photographic medium, creating subtle variants and interventions using painting, liquid-light, gold-leafing and collage. He often interweaves found images with clues from past lives (found passport photos, family albums) to draw links between photography — in particular the concept of the ‘latent image’ — and memory and Délio is known for experimenting with analogue photographic printing processes, including platinum and early printing processes such as ‘Van Dyke Brown’, as well as developing his own printing techniques. Recent exhibitions include Arquivo Urbano, Tiwani Contemporary, London (2019) and The Other Chapter, PHotoESPAÑA (2019). Délio lives and works in Milan. HENRI BADARÖH is a Brazilian visual artist and writer. He has a BA in Photography and an MA in Film and Photographic Studies. Through queer, decolonial and intersectional approaches, Henri focuses on the dialogues between photography and film, analogue creative practices and new media, image and the written word, Europe and America. He frequently collaborates with multidisciplinary artists on publications and performances. Henri is Assistant Editor of Foam Magazine.
TAVARES STRACHAN Encyclopedia of Invisibility
could be seen as a nod to another of his artworks, ENOCH (2018): a satellite containing a 24-carat gold bust dedicated to Robert Henry Lawrence Jr, the first African-American astronaut to be selected for any national space program, who died in a supersonic jet crash before ever going to space. Strachan’s satellite, which was created in collaboration with LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab, was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 and will continue to circle the Earth for seven years, with the astronaut surely being acknowledged in the Encyclopedia of Invisibility. Strachan describes his practice as a way of long thinking, considering his various projects as ‘a series of gestures’, ultimately forming one work. As such, the Encyclopedia of Invisibility could be considered the artist’s sketchbook or drawing table from which new artworks endlessly emerge. With ENOCH, Strachan honours Lawrence Jr by ultimately placing him in the history of space travel. At the same time, Lawrence Jr’s sculptural likeness hovers in space, placing him yet again far out of sight. As such, like Encyclopedia of Invisibility, ENOCH is a reminder of what
we are not seeing. ‘So much education all over the world is based on the idea that we’re looking for things that we’ve already found’, Strachan expressed in conversation with Charlotte Burns in the podcast In Other Words. ‘How do we approach the creative challenges of the future by thinking about the things that are not being studied, the things that are invisible, the characters that don’t make it into the books, the people that don’t make it into the halls of history? How do we create platforms where we can actually think about those ideas, those people, as a way of forging a more creative premise towards education?’ After having been largely ignored for decades, Matthew Henson was admitted as an honorary member to the prestigious ‘Explorers Club’ in New York. With children at the centre of his target audience, Strachan takes up Henson as a role model to create his own version of the Explorers Club, inspiring younger generations to imagine potential histories. — Text by Mirjam Kooiman
All images from the series EIGHTEEN NINETY, 2020. Approx 1,354 panels, UV ink, vinyl, graphite, oil stick, mylar, collage, acrylic, sintra. 11 × 8 × 2 1/8 in. (27.9 × 20.3 × 5.4 cm) each © Tavares Strachan, courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery TAVARES STRACHAN’s artistic practice activates the intersections of art, science, and politics, offering us uniquely synthesised points of view on the cultural dynamics of scientific knowledge. He works in collaboration with organisations and institutions across disciplines, to promote a broader and more inclusive understanding of the work of both artists, scientists, and the systems and support networks that make their work possible. He received a BFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003 and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University in 2006. MIRJAM KOOIMAN is a curator at Foam, where she has worked on various shows including Ai Weiwei — #Safe Passage, Dominic Hawgood — Casting Out The Self as well as the Foam Talent exhibitions of 2015, 2016 and 2020. She holds a BA in Art History and MA in Curating from the University of Amsterdam, with a special interest in postcolonial approaches in the arts. She is currently researching the topic of photography related to digital and virtual realities, and is particularly interested in machine vision and other non-human perspectives. She previously served as a curator-in-training at the photography collection of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum.
LIKE A HUNTER VENTURING OUT ON A SAFARI RONA SELA
Chalil Rissas (Khalil Rassas) , Demonstration of Palestinian Women’s Organisation in the Old city of Jerusalem, undated. Written on the placard: ‘No to relations and no to negotiations, the mandate will be nullified’ — another section was deleted with white-out. IDF Archive.
154 LIKE A HUNTER VENTURING OUT ON A SAFARI
Archives, documents, photographs, films and art objects are collected for intelligence purposes, in preparation for occupation of land and people, as tools for its perpetuation.
Like a hunter venturing out on a safari, the colonialist or the soldier goes out to war, to occupy. On behalf of the sovereign he serves, he plunders cultural, artistic and historical artefacts, and often does not hesitate to loot on his own. Like a bird of prey, he engages in what Simon Harrison called ‘souvenir hunting’. The loot hangs proudly in his home like a stuffed animal for all to see, externalising power, symbolising the occupier’s victory and superiority, the power relations between ruler and ruled. The loot glorifies the game in the hunter society. When the native is subordinated and subsumed under the colonial relationship, their cultural heritage is proudly presented in the glory of the museum’s halls, uprooted from their country and culture of origin, detached from the indigenous context of their creation. The plundered artefacts are presented and interpreted in the white, sterile cube, in the grand galleries of Europe and North America. Men and women dressed in their finest caption the seized items using colonial codes, charge them with foreign-sounding words and meanings, to be consumed as self-evident truths by White children. Chanel suites and haute couture domesticate indigenous knowledge, control its production, and disseminate it in translated, transfigured, disfigured form. When the hunter hunts for land, not only to exploit its resources but also to uproot its inhabitants, settle it and (try to) become a native ex nihilo, the cultural and historical loot often decorates his estates and his courtyards, testifying to his power. In many cases, however, this is not an individual but a sovereign mission — archives, documents, photographs, films and art objects are collected for intelligence purposes, in preparation for occupation of land and people, as tools for its perpetuation. The main purpose of this violent practice, however, is the erasure of indigenous history. The treasures are not just removed from the public sphere, but reappropriated and carefully studied in the colonial dungeons of the archives. They are deliberately catalogued, censured, hidden in the dark. The very act of their seizure is often denied by the new settlers and their bureaucratic representatives — archivists, censors, legal advisors and public servants. There in the dungeons,
indigenous history is erased, rewritten and a new history is reborn — native free. It becomes the history of the new settlers, the new man and women, the owners of their supposed ancient history of the place. Sometimes, usually after a strenuous activist or legal struggle against it, the colonial bureaucracy deigns to leak out a drop or two of genuine indigenous story. But these, too, are colonised to fit in with the new narrative, so as not to burden the new settler’s conscience. The intractable native is demonised as a malevolent primitive, the new settler eulogised as a benevolent modernist. The images and documents are charged with words and concepts foreign to their indigenous origins. The archive functions as a site of erasure, concealment, rewriting, and reinterpretation — a site for the control, reconstruction and reproduction of knowledge. A well-oiled machine. Indigenous history, however, is not preordained to remain ‘a history without documents’ always incomplete, always unknowable, as stated by Omnia El Shakry with regards to the absence of materials and documents in Middle Eastern archives. The archive can — and even must — become a site of resistance, and its researchers, activists. First, the activist-researcher will pinpoint the destructive moves directed against the indigenous past and culture, an erasure on both physical and conscious levels. They (she/he) must reveal how the new settlers plunder and loot cultural and historical treasures, how they deliberately remove them from the public space. Next, they must trace the hidden paths of indigenous history and culture in the settler-colonialist archive — how it is concealed, erased, rewritten, subjected to tendentious strategies and norms that are subordinated to telling history from the perspective of the coloniser/new settler while deleting or altering the history of the original natives. They will fight against destruction, deletion, concealment, censorship and limitations of the materials that tell the indigenous history; and, most importantly, they must fight for the return of seized or looted archives, images, documents and materials to their rightful owners. They will raise the demand to correct this wrong and call
LIKE A HUNTER VENTURING OUT ON A SAFARI
‘infiltrators’, as ‘trespassers’, or as ‘border breakers’. This settler-colonialist terminology presents the original native as a criminal that must be neutralised, with the returning refugees presented as home comers exercising an indisputable right. And if Palestinian indigenous that fought to remain in their home, in their land, in their houses, fighting for their legal and moral rights, are presented as ‘terrorists’ (while at the same time the new settler that uses violent methods against the original Palestinian inhabitants is glorified and is shown and catalogued as a hero, as the New Man who fights to return to his fatherhood land), then the biased, colonialist vocabulary should be discussed, exposed and abolished. Or, as stated by Jacques Derrida, ‘Radical destruction can again be reinvested in another logic […] radical evil can be of service, infinite destruction can be reinvested in a theodicy’. Accordingly, my work as an activist-researcher is to turn the archive into a site of resistance, nullifying its destructive colonial features, reforming its functioning and returning its original contexts, to lead a process of re-imagining while turning hidden into visible, ‘selective forgetting’̨ — in El Shakry’s words — into remembering. It suggests establishing ‘archive partisans’ to liberate the archive, to develop processes for ‘democratization that tackles the state “in its own house”’, as Sonja Hegasy suggested. I argue that reading official colonial records requires reading through the colonial archive’s multiple overt and covert layers, neutralising its colonial biases, and exposing information that often contradicts and challenges its official goals, illuminating its blind spots. This will alter our knowledge of the past, providing new tools to confront the present, challenging and ‘changing conditions of meaning’. In Ahmad Aijaz’s words, ‘If the Western archive has done nothing but silence, misrepresent and fabricate false images of non-Western culture, the task, necessarily, is to restore the authenticity of those cultures through their own practices, rituals, and representations.’
1 https://vimeo.com/213851191 RONA SELA is a curator, researcher of visual history and culture, and lecturer at Tel Aviv University. Since 1996, she has researched the history of colonial Zionist/Israeli photography and archives, women photographers in Palestine/Israel, Palestinian photography, the visual aspects of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, colonial looting and plunder, seizure of Palestinian archives by Israeli and Jewish military forces and pillaging by soldiers and civilians, archives under occupation, Nakba images and Palestinian historiography in Israeli archives.
MEMES AND THE (ANTI-) ARCHIVE CLUSTERDUCK COLLECTIVE
‘I’m just a Badass Internectual’ by Franziska Von Guten, 2016, ‘Screenshot’ by Tom Galle, 2018, and collage by Jules Durand, 2018
160 MEMES AND THE (ANTI-)ARCHIVE
So, here we are, three years later, trying to exorcise our poor, tired spirits from all the memes we had to consume in the meantime. The thing is, they never stop. They keep coming. Every day. Even now, as we are writing these words. And yet we can’t help it. The work must be done. We circle endlessly around our core quandary: How to map the unmappable? How to represent an object that, by its nature, defies representation (which is to say, any living or ‘real’ object)? Every archive ever conceived is a desperate attempt to counter the universal laws of thermodynamics. Fear of entropy besets the silent shelves of dusty libraries. Few undertakings speak to this truth as much as humanity’s repeated attempts to map the ever-changing landscape of the digital world we call the Internet. And probably no other continent in this nightmarish, kaleidoscopic cyberspace is as difficult and ultimately impossible to map and represent as the one we have come to know as the memesphere.
‘MEME MANIFESTO’ Beta version by Jules Durand curated by Clusterduck for the Wrong Digital Biennale 2018
When, in the early months of 2018, we embarked on a mission to show the potential for political activism of memes, we had no idea of what we were doing — or, to be more accurate, no idea of what we were truly doing. It is a classic tale of esoteric power-evocation gone wrong, if you want: a postmodern version of the sorcerer’s apprentice. Had we known what we were about to embark on, surely, we wouldn’t have done it — what person with a sane mind would have?
MEMES AND THE (ANTI-)ARCHIVE
really missed the pre-Covid party scene, the feedback loops between marketing and meme culture in these groups had probably reached singularity. During our collaboration with the independent studies platform Freeport, we had the opportunity to exchange memes with users and participants from Brazil, Spain, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Italy and France. We were able to draw lines and find commonalities between memes about Italian, Spanish and Mexican political figures. Then we realised that if politicians like Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump can learn something from each other, so can the local meme activists who are trying to fight them. The strategies used during The Protocols incorporate some methods already employed in the collective research activities carried out by Clusterduck over the past three years. The habit of surfing the Internet in search of new filter bubbles, communities and imaginaries has accompanied us from the beginning, and might be one of the main reasons why the collective was born. The practice of collecting images and memes has even older roots, if we consider that our generation has grown in the era of big data and information overload. BUILDING THE ANTI-ARCHIVE It could be argued that the compulsive desire to archive the digital world is just another symptom of a deeply rooted human urgency to (re)create a semblance of order in a chaotic world — a need intensified by the perceived increased opacity and complexity of the world surrounding us. However, we should keep in mind that, when following this desire, we always risk being seduced by the dangerous fantasy of a totalitarian, universalistic dystopia. Instead, the weirdness of our times requires us to embrace multiplicity and dissonance: creating not one, but many decentralised, rhizomatic archives. An archive of archives, or — even better — an anti-archive. Nourishing, caring and conserving the many strange, unusual and highly creative expressions of human (and non-human) agency (and non-agency) that punctuate the reality we inhabit. In the near future, we hope that we’ll be able to create more bridges between the Anglo-European bubble we all too often find ourselves trapped in and the ‘other’ Internets — geographically and culturally speaking. Not as a means for value extraction and financial exploitation but, on the contrary, as a way to decolonise our calcified collective imaginary and open it up to new, alternative visions of our shared future on this planet.
All images (except as noted below) © Clusterduck p.153 left: Image by Svenja Trierscheid right: Visit MEME MANIFESTO’s website Special thanks to Gabriele Guarisco, Gregorio Magini and Emberto Boschi CLUSTERDUCK is an interdisciplinary collective by Francesca Del Bono, Tommaso Cappelletti, Silvia Dal Dosso, Jules Durand, Arianna Magrini and Noel Nicolaus. A bunch of badass peeps who like to waste time on the Internet and work at the crossroads of research, design and transmedia, focusing on the processes and actors behind the creation of Internet-related content. If you want to join Clusterduck’s Telegram research chats, or want to know more about their work, please feel free to contact them at hello@ clusterduck.space — at your own risk! Clusterduck’s The Detective Wall Guide, published by Aksioma, will be available this month for purchase online.
DAN BOARDMAN & ASPEN MAYS Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going, Why?
DAN BOARDMAN & ASPEN MAYS
in Bishop’s sense — not just the capstone of what occurred, but a beginning, a kind of haunted house of staged and candid photography and euphemistic bureaucratic writing regarding ‘O-ring char’ and fatal oversight errors, a portrait of a historical moment that feels strikingly undead. One half of the spiral-bound book focuses on public documentation of social studies teacher, civilian astronaut, and mother of two Christa McAuliffe’s training for the flight, juxtaposing eerie, dated-looking colour images of her permed and manicured appearances for pre-flight training exercises with excerpts from subsequent reports on the mission’s failure. McAuliffe was supposed to communicate with American students from space, thereby increasing popular interest
in the nation’s efforts to expand its extraplanetary presence. That she was aboard meant the explosion was witnessed by many, many schoolchildren on Earth in real time. The other half of Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going, Why? speaks to the question of witnessing in a different way. It gathers a series of photographs taken by Boardman’s grandparents on a crosscountry road trip, during the course of which they observed the Challenger launch at close hand. Most of these — admittedly beautiful, moving — private pictures of foliage and sites have nothing to do with the disaster, but then one comes to the famous plume of cloud. Now, Mays and Boardman ask, can you see the monument? — Text by Lucy Ives
All images from the series Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going, Why? © Aspen Mays and Dan Boardman, courtesy of the artists First Edition 2016 © Conveyor Editions and Houseboat Press. Printed by Conveyor Studio Images from p. 177–182 courtesy of NASA unless otherwise noted. Included documents: Rogers Commission Report (1986), Atlas of Comet Halley 1910 II (NASA, 1986), and Challenger’s Lost Lessons: Teacher in Space Project (NASA, 1986). DAN BOARDMAN is a visual artist living in central New York. Born in Ontario, California, he received his BFA in Photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and his MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and is held in both public and private collections. He is a 2015 Light Work AIR and 2013 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow. His publishing company Houseboat Press has exhibited at Aperture Gallery in New York and at Off-Print in Paris. Currently, Dan is Acting Director at Light Work in Syracuse, NY. ASPEN MAYS received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in Anthropology and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently an Associate Professor of Photography at the California College of the Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is represented by Higher Pictures Generation in New York, and recent honours include a 2021 Purchase Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Aspen was also a Fulbright Scholar in Santiago, Chile, where she spent time with astrophysicists using the world’s most advanced telescopes to look at the sky, an experience that has made a lasting impact on her work. LUCY IVES is the author of the novels Impossible Views of the World, published by Penguin Press and Loudermild: Or, The Real Poet; Or, The Origin of the World, published by Soft Skull Press — both selected as New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. A graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University and teaches in NYU’s XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement Master’s programme.
DAVID ALEKHUOGIE A Reprise
the sculptures with maximum clarity. He centrally positioned the intricately shaped objects within the frame and captured them against unalluring backdrops. Ingeniously, Evans often rotated light sources during exposure to avoid the registration of harsh shadows, and on numerous occasions, he trimmed his contact prints so that the published images would lack evidence of his set up. Consistently austere, these procedures reflected modernist aspirations for extreme objectivity, and echoed the deracinating and sterile ethos of the sculptures’ display in the exhibition installed as they were in pristine white galleries. When viewed in light of conventional archival methods premised on bureaucratic principles of standardisation and impartiality, Evans’s images, at the time of their making, helped normalise a neat, univocal, and ahistorical narrative about the sculptures that endured for decades and delimited ethical questions about their circulation and displacement into Western collections. Alekhuogie’s A Reprise explodes the myth of neutrality and the presumptions of authenticity on which it rests. In transposing the images into three-dimensional sculptures before re-photographing them, Alekhuogie in effect re-exhibits the
objects and provides them with new contexts void of any pretence to impartiality. Whether it’s the conspicuous presence of the coloured textile in Female Figure or the graffiti-like wash of blue paint behind the sculpture in Banda Headdress, the artist’s use of colour imbues the objects with a discrepant aura and vitality. Such gestures are suggestive of the contemporary relevance of these sculptures and their histories of display — to both pressing debates surrounding the repatriation of African cultural patrimony, and fresh scholarly approaches to appraising their cultural significance. In some instances, Alekhuogie is careful to expose evidence of the copy stand on which his compositions were devised and photographed, while in other cases the objects’ orientation appears topsy-turvy and illegible as in WE 410/2. Through such details, the photographs brilliantly celebrate the challenges and discomfort that often accompanies the introduction of different or multiple perspectives — reminding us that calling up certain histories of archival representation and overturning them is often an uneasy though indispensable process. — Text by Antawan I. Byrd
In order of appearance: — WE 410/2, 2020 — WE 107/2, 2021 — Banda Headdress, 2019 — WE 271/2, 2019 — Ancestral Figures, 2020 — Female figure, 2020 All images from the series A Reprise © David Alekhuogie, courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery DAVID ALEKHUOGIE received his MFA from Yale University and postbac BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work was included in Companion Pieces, the 2020 iteration of MoMA’s biannual New Photography exhibition, and is currently on view in Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth. at the California African American Art Museum in Los Angeles. In 2019, he was the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. ANTAWAN I. BYRD is associate curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a PhD candidate in Modern and Contemporary Art History at Northwestern University. Byrd recently co-curated, The People Shall Govern! Medu Art Ensemble and the Anti-Apartheid Poster (Art Institute of Chicago, 2019), and was a co-curator of the 2nd Lagos Biennial of Contemporary Art (2019).
LÍVIA MELZI Collection of Unjust Enrichment
208 matches the part that has no feathers, showing precisely the structure of its inner parts. Thus, in this photograph the cloak and the image show two structures of time: the first comes from the very material wear of the cloak, its lack of feathers in one part; the second, from the photograph itself, which shows the conditions under which the image was produced. In another image, showing diapositives in a sleeve, one can see a set of stickers with numbers and information referring to the pieces filed in the museum. By disrupting the flow of the archive, the images perform a meta-archive, for they situate museums in the West as ‘contact zones’, as defined by James Clifford. The photographs in question can also be read as contact zones. Contact between the artist and the archive, between the images and the Indigenous people, between our memory of museum visitors and our little practice of visiting their archives. The circulation of artefacts, objects and their constant resignification also produce a sense of diaspora of Indigenous peoples. Melzi’s photographs show that these objects’ most fragile element — the
LÍVIA MELZI feathers — occupy a central part of this heritage built at the expense of historical dispossession. The feathers and their colours highlight the structural void, into which these objects have been placed. This is what the artist calls the Collection of Unjust Enrichment. Exiled from their own lands, the feathers are also exiled in archival images. However, Melzi’s images outline a comeback: this material and its symbolic return from colonial archives helps to bring to the fore a network of cosmological knowledges from the Tupinambá cloak. Melzi’s photographic practice produces a transmission of gestures both through her photographs and in her exchanges with Glicéria Tupinambá, an Indigenous woman who is long rediscovering her heritage by remaking the cloak in her own community. In short, two women cross several layers of history in a photographic correspondence, and this would be a third structure that emerges from this ongoing dialogue of images throughout these pages, which is only just beginning. — Text by Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira
All images (except as noted below) from the series Collection of Unjust Enrichment © Lívia Melzi, courtesy of the artist p. 200 (top of page): Headpiece H.5934 (1689) © Ethnographic Collection of the National Museum of Denmark / Photographer: Søren Greve Headpiece H.5935 (1689) © Ethnographic Collection of the National Museum of Denmark / Photographer: Søren Greve LÍVIA MELZI holds a BSc in Oceanography from Universidade de São Paulo and an MA in Photography and Contemporary Art from Université Paris 8. Her artistic practice takes place in the realms of archive and memory, making use of images made by Europeans as a way to question domination mechanisms present in the production, conservation, and circulation of images. In 2014, Lívia was awarded the Rencontres d’Arles’ Voies Off. Her work is also part of private photography collections in Switzerland and France, and will integrate the upcoming edition of LABVERDE in the Amazon. Lívia lives and works in Paris. EDUARDO JORGE DE OLIVEIRA is currently assistant professor in Brazilian Literature, Art and Media at the Romance Studies Department of University of Zurich – UZH. He is the author of A Invenção de uma Pele: Nuno Ramos em Obras (Iluminuras, 2018) and Signo, Sigilo: Mira Schendel e a Escrita da Vivência Imediata (Lumme Editor, 2019). In English, he has published ‘How to Build Cathedrals — Cildo Meireles: a Sensory Geography of Brazil’ (Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 2019).
ALANNA FIELDS In Search of Ourselves
224 but about what happens in between. The specific uses of the wax invites viewers to feel and sense time and place outside of what is understood to be archival. In other words, the texture of the wax in conversation with the archival photographs allow for new relationalities to emerge. Fields’ work reminds that archival images are not just about preserving or recuperating the past. Rather, these photographs punctuate queer stories and narratives outside of the dominant white framework. Fields’ artistic approach troubles traditional relationships between photography and the archive. Historically, Black people, and queers specifically, have been subjected to an overtly sexualised white gaze. This gaze is marked by a racial fetishism that produces a fixed and stereotypical aesthetic of Black sexuality. Fields offers viewers a selection of photographs, ranging from the 1960s–1980s, that are typically not found within official archives. The nuances in queer expression in these archival images challenge hierarchal ideas about aesthetics and value within photography.
ALANNA FIELDS Fields plays with memory and creates Black queer dreamscapes. In Fields’ most recent series, Mirages of Dream Past, there is a deliberate focus on freedom, joy, and rest. The wax does not conceal these photographs but draws us into nature and intimate settings. In Come to My Garden, we see a Black woman sitting on a blanket. Her gaze is slightly turned, and she is just resting. Works such as You Lived Here Inside my Mind remind that images of Black queer women remain underrepresented in archival collections. The layering and repetition here evoke a sense of plenitude. Fields shows what it means to think and journey with Black queer archival images. How one image can orientate viewers in multiple directions. How desire, intimacy, and solitude expand and open up novel ways of thinking with archival presence. How archival absence is not just about loss, but about how Black queerness reverberates across time and space. — Text by Chandra Frank All images from the series Audacity, As We Were and Mirages of Dreams Past © Alanna Fields, courtesy of the artist and Assembly ALANNA FIELDS is a lens-based mixed media artist and archivist whose work examines the dialogue between black queer bodies in the photographic space through gesture, aesthetics, and the negotiation between legibility and masking. Fields’ work has been featured in exhibitions at Pt. 2 Gallery, Residency Art Gallery, Felix Art Fair in LA, UNTITLED Art Fair in Miami, MoCADA, Pratt Institute, and the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center. Fields is a 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Scholar, 2020 Light Work AIR, 2020 Baxter St CCNY Workspace Artist in Residence, and the recipient of Gallery Aferro’s John and Lynn Kearney Fellowship. She received her MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute in 2019. Fields currently lives and works in New York City, and is represented by Assembly. CHANDRA FRANK is a feminist researcher and independent curator, who works on the intersections of archives, waterways, gender, sexuality and race. Her curatorial practice explores the politics of care, experimental forms of narration, and the colonial grammar embedded within display and exhibition arrangements. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and exhibition catalogues, including Feminist Review, the Small Axe VLOSA catalogue, The Place is Here publication and the collection Tongues. Recently, Chandra coedited a special issue on Archives for Feminist Review and was a Curatorial Fellow at the Institute of the Creative Arts, University of Cape Town.
A NON-ODE TO DECOLONISING THE ARCHIVE FOCUS ESSAY
BRENDA J. CARO COCOTLE
A NON-ODE TO DECOLONISING...
the work done by the Arab Image Foundation, Zaatari examines what kind of narratives have been constructed and their implications. The project could be seen as an open question, a self-portrait that looks at its creator, who finds himself unsettled and dubious. Colombian artist Andrés Orjuela enquires into structures of classification and contexts around the use of photographic images. One of his best-known works is Archivo Muerto (2011–2017), a long-term project based on discarded inactive files of a Colombian newspaper. Using simple gestures of intervention such as colour, labels, print techniques, or size alterations, Orjuela unveils a potential history, a contra-archive of the institutional narrative constructed by the Colombian state. Orjuela situates the observer in an uncomfortable position, outside of the traditional limits and structures of archival organisation. More than claiming that we have found the formula for decolonisation, we need to situate ourselves on the edge of the constituent violence that any archive involves. This is problematic enough and not a minor task to do. How we approach that edge… well, there is not one answer. Curatorial-art initiatives as those developed by Azoulay, Zaatari or Orjuela are some alternatives, but not the alternatives. ( )
Have I already said that I am a cynical?
1 Cfr. S. Carrillo. ´Primeros apuntes para una propuesta de decolonización del archivo’, Terremoto , 15 August 2019, https://terremoto.mx/revista/ primeros-apuntes-para-unapropuesta-de-descolonizacion-delarchivo/. BRENDA J. CARO COCOTLE holds an MA in Museum Studies from Universidad Iberoamericana and a PhD in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. Curious by nature, Brenda has a particular interest in contemporary art and culture process, museums, and archives. She has worked in several public and private institutions as art manager, researcher, and curator, and has been university professor and guest lecturer. Currently, Brenda is chief curator at the Museo de Arte Moderno in México City. She is the author of Paraguas de navegación (IVEC, 2017), children’s book illustrated by Catalina Carvajal.
Activating Archives, Community Dialogues by Sunil Shah
which to share, display and post about images and engage beyond the workshop sessions. Both Instagram and Google’s Padlet became focussed spaces of activity and feedback. Although the gallery adopted Instagram ‘takeovers’ as a way in which to promote the project to their audiences, Instagram’s hashtag #activatingourarchives became the label that could fully travel beyond the gallery’s followership. This in the digital age, as we are now fully aware that social media is where visibility and so value exponentially rises. Within a few months of activity, the hashtag flourished in the public sphere, with individuals across the globe posting their images, effectively expanding the community’s membership. Secondly, without an allotted exhibition space, the project showcased its themes and work in a one-day event called This Image is No Longer Available. Compressing space and time, the participants took over the gallery for a day, showing their work and reflecting on their projects and experiences, inviting speakers and screening work from selected artists including Mishka Henner, Zarina Muhammad and Akshay Chohan, Tom Milnes and Emile Zile. It was a further demonstration of how hierarchy, time and space could be collapsed. Even though well attended by visitors on the day, due to the new media economy, audiences could be engaged well beyond the physical space as Instagram stories and the hashtag proved, and as Emile Zile’s performance piece, Liquid Cooled (2019) demonstrated being live streamed into the gallery from Melbourne Australia. CONTINUATION The above constitutes only a fraction of the depth of enquiry, mutual affection and sense of community this project. However, it indicates how community focus and extra-institutional possibilities hold a great deal of potential in how art can function in more inclusive ways. Activating our Archives was able to move the notion of archival practices well beyond its perception as a hermetic trope in the arts suitable for individuals who work with collections in isolation. The potential of photographic archives is truly to be found in their sharing, in the conversations that emerge about content and its interpretation, in the creative expressions that can be made from archival material and in the communities that are formed in a civic sense. The project successfully bridged a connection between the art seen in the galleries and the audience, effectively bringing art and life together. The popularity of the project surpassed all our expectations and the gallery committed to extending the project. This year, 2021, marks its third year. This time to run alongside a show of Malawian artist Samson Kambalu. Look out for the hashtag #activatingourarchives and get involved.
Thank you to Modern Art Oxford, in particular to Paul Hobson, Sara Lowes, Najia Baji and Tom Milnes. A big thank you to all the participants of Activating our Archives 2019, 2020 and 2021. SUNIL SHAH is an artist, curator and writer based in Oxford, UK. His critical interests span exhibition histories and the sites and structures of artistic production and presentation. He is Associate Editor of American Suburb X online photography and visual culture platform and a PhD researcher at Central St. Martins, London.
FRIDA ORUPABO After Hours
254 representing the hands of the midwife welcoming the newborn, all in a floating composition. In another, a woman lying on a bed like a prisoner evokes the feeling of abandonment and imprisonment that some women who are forced to rest during pregnancy may experience. Here, the woman appears to be tied to her bed. The pastel tones and the floor, which is a bright, sharp red, stand in contrast to Orupabo’s usual choice for black and white images, and spot the work with colour. Woman Flying II, showing a woman wrapped in a piece of fabric shaped as a bird, gives an example on how to answer the question of ‘How do we break free of the frame?’ posed by Arthur Jafa to bell hooks in a lecture at The New School a few years ago. hooks replied with the following: ‘Our bodies cannot speak freely as long as they are under surveillance.’ In Orupabo’s Woman Flying II, the artist reappropriates the theme of the witch, a feminist symbol of resistance — histori-
FRIDA ORUPABO cally hunted down because she escapes patriarchal control. The witch is both a healer and a symbol of freedom, and by making the Black woman intervene as the subject of her own emancipation, the artist makes a liberating act. It is a question of getting out of the dehumanising framework imposed by white society — ‘Do not stay in your place’ wrote author Rokhaya Diallo! The fact that the female characters in Orupabo’s collages often look directly at the viewer adds an interesting psychological dimension; this reversed look sends the spectator back to his initial position of voyeur transforming the women from body-object to body-subject. According to Walter Mignolo in his call for a decolonial aesthetics, ‘[t]he intellectual force and creativity today is coming from that sensibility, decolonial aesthesis, not only in ¨art¨ but in all spheres of life.’
— Text by Anne Wetsi Mpoma
All images from the series After Hours © Frida Orupabo, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm FRIDA ORUPABO is a sociologist and artist living and working in Oslo, Norway. Her work consists of digital and physical collages in various forms, which explore questions related to race, family relations, gender, sexuality, violence and identity. Solo exhibitions include Medicine for a Nightmare, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; The Mouth and the Truth, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main; and A House is a House, Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin (2019) and she is amongst the artists shortlisted for the 2021 Future Generation Art Prize. ANNE WETSI MPOMA is an art historian, curator, author and gallery owner. She proposes solutions to deconstruct and reinvent the arts and the imaginary for a more inclusive society. Director and founder of the Wetsi Art Gallery (2019, asbl Nouveau Système Artistique) an interdependent space that builds bridges with diverse audiences — particularly institutional ones — by showing the work of artists marginalised because of their ‘race’, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin and/or ‘disability’.
SOM PRABH A Field Guide to Hell
264 up for debate. In one illustration included in Prabh’s collage, ministers and mining authorities are depicted as rats running underneath the surface of Jharia, gradually loosening its foundations. The project’s title, too, articulates a prominent tension that informs Prabh’s photo-archival approach and its claim to responsible representation. Fire invites its own language, and in a place like Jharia, seemingly so rich in grotesque visual detail available to anyone online, the metaphors follow a familiar pattern: ‘inferno,’ ‘wasteland,’ ‘purgatory,’ ‘hell on Earth.’ There exists, equally, a sense of enduring injustice as well as business-as-usual. To consider these two facts together, and to deploy this language, is to become entangled in its slow violence, and by extension, accept that looking is not enough. The dense documentary clutter of Prabh’s work attempts to reframe photojournalism’s relationship to witnessing as a self-contained act. Two semantic dangers persist, as they always
SOM PRABH have with the medium: if, on the one hand, Jharia’s imagery risks slipping into vacant metaphor, on the other, it’s people’s plight may also find itself — to reference the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai — ‘domesticated into the abstract, precise, complete, and cool idiom of number.’ The photographs here provide a frame for the collated documents and insist not just on a right to visibility but also recognition. Each archival structure imposes a set of meanings on the objects housed within it, and these objects invariably rearrange themselves with each new intervention. If people and paperwork entwine in Prabh’s field guide, it is to illuminate a cruel slippage between the two within India’s creaking bureaucracy, where some citizens are rendered gods while others barely find recognition by the state. Hell, in Jharia, has not just been invented, it has been governed into existence. — Text by Varun Nayar
All images from the series A Field Guide to Hell © Som Prabh, courtesy of the artist SOM PRABH completed a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication before moving to London, where he is currently earning an MA at London College of Communication. The city of Jharia was an hour away from his hometown and his personal work has been loosely directed towards the environment and its impact on communities. VARUN NAYAR is a Mumbai-based writer, editor, and researcher of photography in South Asia. His work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, Himal Southasian, Nat Geo Traveller India, and Words Without Borders, amongst other publications and exhibitions. He is currently the lead editor at the Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru.
AMAK MAHMOODIAN Zanjir
addressed directly, or are we left to eavesdrop, as if trying to listen through thick glass? Is it a conversation or a séance? I continue through the book, trying to be dutiful, making my way to the final photograph and poem. A picture of two leaves clinging to either side of a bleak stem, and this: Today I think about things that I forgot to remember I remind myself to remember I am afraid of the life I have created in photographs it is because of my dreams I dream I remember With no family but memory With no land but traces My land travels within me I live in the past I have created a life Life of memories. Wait… I have read this before. Yes, these words opened the book, too. I am back where I started, yet not exactly. A spiral, not a circle. Not quite the same. The book has not changed, and neither have the words or the photographs, but everything else has. — Text by David Campany
Credits: Archive photos: These photographs were made between 1860–1896 be Naser al-Din Shah, the king of persia during the Qajar Era — the same era when photography arrived in Iran. These photographs are currently held at the Golestan Palace Archive. Contemporary Photos: These photographs were made by Amak Mahmoodian, between 2002–2019. AMAK MAHMOODIAN is an Iranian artist based in the UK. Her work questions notions of identity, bridging a space between public life and private life, personal and political which draws on her experiences in the Middle East, Asia and the West. Amak’s practice explores the effects of exile on memory, dreams and subconsciousness. In 2015, she completed a practice-based doctorate in photography at the University of South Wales, having previously studied at the Art University of Tehran. Working with image, poems and archives she looks for the lyrical realities framed in the photographs. Amak has shown her work extensively and won numerous awards. DAVID CAMPANY is a curator, writer, and Managing Director of Programmes at the International Center of Photography, New York. His work has been published by MACK, MIT Press and Kehrer Verlag, amongst others and recent titles include On Photographs (2020), So Present, So Invisible — Conversations on Photography (2018), The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip (2014), and Walker Evans: The Magazine Work (2014). In 2020, Campany curated the Biennale für Aktuelle Fotografie in Mannheim as well as the exhibition A Handful of Dust — from the Cosmic to the Domestic, recently on view at Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto.
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288 ISSUE #59, Histories — The Archival Issue EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Elisa Medde EDITORS Henri Badaröh, Katy Hundertmark, Elisa Medde ASSISTANT EDITORS Henri Badaröh, Katy Hundertmark MAGAZINE MANAGEMENT Maureen Marck ART DIRECTOR Studio Hamid Sallali DESIGN & LAYOUT Ayumi Higuchi, Studio Hamid Sallali TYPEFACES Haarlem (Adrien Menard), Maria (Phil Baber), SUD (VJ-Type) CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS & WRITERS Kelani Abass, Mohamad Abdouni, Jessica de Abreu, David Alekhuogie, Marina Amaral, Gomantak Maratha Samaj Archives, Anjali Arondekar, Mariama Attah, Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, Henri Badaröh, Fernando Banzi, Anne Barlinckhoff, Jacqueline Bates, Dan Boardman, Antawan I. Byrd, David Campany, Clusterduck Collective, Brenda J. Caro Cocotle, Alanna Fields, Avram Finkelstein, Chandra Frank, Lucy Ives, Délio Jasse, Kim Knoppers, Mika Kobayashi, Mirjam Kooiman, Carollina Lauriano, Amak Mahmoodian, Ana Raquel Manhique, Aspen Mays, Elisa Medde, Lívia Melzi, Awoiska van der Molen, Anne Wetsi Mpoma, Varun Nayar, Shirin Neshat, Now You See Me Moria, Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira, Andrés Orjuela, Frida Orupabo, Rhita Oudghiri, Giovanna Petrocchi, Som Prabh, Stephanie Ribeiro, Chalil Rissas, Sofia Yala Rodrigues, Roberto Ruiz, Rona Sela, Eugenie Shinkle, Pacifico Silano, Joy Stacey, Tavares Strachan, Sunil Shah, Stanley WolukauWanambwa, Kai Yokoyama TRANSLATIONS Liz Waters
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